Man gets 5 years for possession of meth
A man convicted of violating local drug laws has been sentenced to 5 years to the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF).
According to the government, cops arrested Mark Valaau Jr last year and found drugs inside his vehicle and on him, while he was on probation for a 2014 conviction.
Valaau Jr, 43, who has been in custody since his arrest, unable to post a $5,000 cash bond, appeared in court last week for sentencing.
He was originally charged with one count of unlawful possession of meth, a felony punishable by 5-10 years in jail, and a fine of $5,000- $20,000, or both.
In a plea agreement with the government last month, Valaau Jr pled guilty to unlawful possession of methamphetamine. With his guilty plea, Valaau Jr admits that on Aug. 28, 2018 he had a baggie that contained meth.
When given the chance to speak, Valaau Jr apologized and asked for another chance so he can return home to care for his elderly mother. He said the time he spent in jail has taught him a good lesson, and he’s really remorseful.
“I promise your honor, if I am given another chance, I will be a changed man and will comply with all the laws of the territory. I know what I did was wrong but I assure you that I am truly remorseful and want to go back home to see my mother,” Valaau Jr said.
Defense attorney Ryan Anderson asked the court to give his client a chance to prove that he can change his old ways and become a productive member of the community and his family.
He said that in the beginning of this year, his client appeared in court for a Disposition Hearing for violating conditions of his probation. During that hearing, the court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the suspended period of his probated sentence, which was 7 years.
Anderson asked the court to let his client’s sentence from his new case run concurrent with the sentence he’s currently serving at TCF.
The court informed Valaau Jr that when the government filed the case against him, he was initially charged with a crime that could have sent him away for a minimum of 5 years and maximum of 10 years.
But he was given a huge break through a plea bargain with the government. However, looking at the PSR and his record, the court notices that Valaau Jr was given numerous breaks on three separate occasions, not from the panel of judges, but from the court.
Valaau Jr was then sentenced to 5 years at the TCF, and it will run consecutive to any sentence he’s already serving.
The court reminded Valaau Jr that when the time is right for him to be released, he has to take it up with the Parole Board, not Probation.
In 2014, Valaau Jr was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary and receiving stolen property. For each count, he was ordered to serve 28-months detention (a total of 56 months at the TCF) as a condition of a 7-year probation term which ends in 2020
The court ordered that the two imprisonment terms run concurrently, which means, Valaau Jr only had to serve 28 months.
While on probation, his vehicle was pulled over during a traffic stop in Malaeimi on the night of Aug. 28, 2018 for a traffic violation. Valaau Jr looked nervous when officers were explaining to him why he was stopped. Cops observed Valaau Jr trying to reach into the back seat of his vehicle to conceal something.
This gave officers probable cause to search his vehicle and body.
A body search netted a baggie containing meth, while a vehicle search produced another baggie containing meth and a glass pipe also containing meth on the back seat of the vehicle.
Valaau Jr told police that he went to Vaitogi to buy meth from another person earlier that day. He then admitted that the drugs found belonged to him.